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The Monkees just trying to be friendly, 40 years on

By Randy Lewis

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

Published: Saturday, Nov. 17 2012 2:25 p.m. MST

That refers to the famous showdown between the Monkees — with Nesmith leading the charge — and music world impresario Don Kirshner, who controlled the music the group recorded, largely from his bevy of esteemed Brill Building songwriters including Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and Neil Diamond.

Kirshner also had an authoritarian hand over how the band's records were made and packaged. The contributions of ace Hollywood studio musicians who played most of the music on the group's first two albums, "The Monkees" and "More of the Monkees," went largely uncredited, creating the impression that all the music was played by Dolenz, Jones, Nesmith and Tork.

That bit of pop history will underscore this tour, a portion of which will be devoted to their third album, 1967's "Headquarters," the first after the battle that led to Kirshner's ousting.

"It's the first album we were the musicians on, the first which we had creative control over," said Tork, who performs and records with his own band, Shoe Suede Blues, when he's not occupied with Monkees business, while Dolenz has kept active in musical theater and recently released a new solo album, "Remember." "We were very pleased with ourselves — rightly or wrongly — with that album."

The reunion show also will include all the songs from "Head," the experimental film written by Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson.

Today the Monkees have no shortage of fans, and not all of them are boomers. The TV show went into syndication in the 1970s, then became a major hit with a new generation at the dawn of MTV, which ran episodes three times a day in the 1980s, leading to a major Monkees revival. Their original studio albums were reissued and returned the group to the Billboard charts two decades after it formed.

But of the fans who bemoan that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has never inducted the Monkees, group members aren't among them. "It's their museum (and) I don't feel the least bit slighted, or snubbed in any way," said Nesmith, the Texas-born musician famous for his green knit beanie, who was originally pigeonholed as "the smart Monkee."

"The Monkees will be wherever they belong — I have a lot of confidence in that because of where we have popped up, in the right places, over time," Nesmith said.

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